EXCLUSIVE: Parmar: “It wasn’t a dirty campaign”

Julian Parmar, who dropped out of the runnings for Union president yesterday, talks exclusively to The Tab about why he dropped out.

Cambridge Union dirty elections investigation julian parmar

On the evening of the Cambridge Union elections, Julian Parmar spoke exclusively to The Tab about why he dropped out of the race for President.

When I met with Parmar he seemed more relaxed than I’d seen him in recent weeks.

Union elections take their toll on all those involved and he seemed relieved to be free of the stress. I asked him whether he was also relieved to know he won’t have to take on the work load of the President.

“The work load of President is at least three times what I’m doing at the Union now,” Parmar told me.

“People think it’s all chatting with celebrities and sitting in a fancy chair, but the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes is absolutely ridiculous. I’ve got my summer back now.”

But Parmar said it wasn’t the workload that had influenced his decision.

“Recent personal developments have meant I don’t think I can make the Union the best it can be,” Parmar said.

But Parmar was reluctant to answer the question on everybody’s lips, saying: “As for the personal reasons, I would prefer to keep them private.”

Parmar denied that the investigation into claims made on his manifesto could have influenced his decision, saying: “For that offence the recommended penalty is only a 5% docking of votes.”

The investigation was abandoned following Parmar’s withdrawl, but I asked Parmar what he thought the returning officers would have ruled had it continued.

“I think it’s better that I don’t comment on that”, he said. “Obviously I thought that I was not guilty.”

There were also four other investigations into various candidates over the course of the campaign.

But when I put it to Parmar that it had been a ‘dirty’ campaign, he replied: “No, I don’t think it was dirty. Everyone was found not guilty.

“The reason why all this stuff comes out is because if anyone makes a complaint the Returning Officers are obliged to carry out an investigation and make a report no matter how small or unfounded the allegations are.”

If it wasn’t dirty, then why so many investigations? Parmar replied: “I think for the people involved the stakes appear to be very, very high.

“People were just making sure that other candidates weren’t being dirty, as people were worried they would be. The new rules mean people can give themselves a huge advantage.”

Parmar himself complained against rival Calum Macdonald and President-elect Francesca Hill, alleging there was a ‘conspiracy’ between the two of them against him. The pair were subsequently found not guilty, and I asked Parmar if he was happy with the outcome of not just this, but all the investigations.

“Yes, they were all entirely fair enough,” he said. “The returning officers had a hard job. They did very well to handle [all the investigations] without there actually being a huge amount of in fighting.”

Despite the investigations, Parmar insisted that he left the Union on good terms.

“On the whole whilst there’s a lot of politics that goes on, we are all fundamentally good friends. I’ve worked with some people there since Michaelmas 2009.

“Obviously arguments happen, but I left on good terms.”

I asked Parmar whether he’d continue to be involved with the Union, but he said: “I think it would be better for everyone if I didn’t.

“I’ve been involved for a long time but I need to give the new committee time to do their own thing.”

One day on, does Parmar have any regrets?

“I don’t regret the decision,” said Parmar. “I think it was the right choice. I am a little disappointed, but I think that the Union will thrive better under someone else’s leadership.”

“I wish Calum the best of luck.”